Have a go at reading this:
mundae, twentee somethinth
Hull O Emilee
seamza norfl thyme cinse eye roat u anoat o g sew ispoz ibeta skribl a phew lions tew yew.
nuthn 2 repoart frum thiz peart ov tha wurld. eye havnbean upta n-e moore stuntz latle, justa bitter foan ontha 4T durin weekenz wit tha ole mobb. tha ole vois-bocks gozta potte quight phrequentle, sew wea doo knot dew mutsch phoan latle. i maid thet linun coan speeca az shoanin why-a-les weaklie a phew weaksbak & itza bitter orlwrite, beswon ieva herd & itl doo mea untl icn geta dienamik speeca.
soree 2 heer ov yoar trubl wid thablinkn bee bateree butt hoap yew gotta propa charja fourit & doo knotte pae 3 & sicks evree thyme u wanit dunne. sa tel ur Mutha eye offn thingk ov hur wen im putn tha gudoil onyha raydeeatore. yss eye putsum onut the smorn-in az wee adsum reign larz knight.
adder phlat tya tda an phounda litl thingameejigge intha cuva lik thisere T. wunda wotit woz? air-rick azgottha lizee goin gudo, E gavit a kompleet ovahoarl.
alph an eye wenfoura spinne owttha pleign ontha tchazzie totha da. sheshore kan pul neaow, itwuz sum bugee ryd bee-leev mee!
mista an misiz lee-oh aryvd safleigh. shee iza verie niz yung ladee absalootlee ok an therz greight joie intha kamp az yew mite ges.
eyeam snndn a kutin owta thapapa given d-tales ova nutha cuppl kontemplatn tha fatl plundgz. high high!
thafamlee r tawkn abowt kampn atevns hed 4 xmus, oap ut dozen reign, woodenit beea fare kow? doant thingk eyell botha tacn n-e raydeeoh deceva, havnt maid thapoartabl yeti wuztorkn abowt. awl tawk ae watt?
avnt n e moore nuz hear & karnt thingk upp n e firtha wotte to wright neaow m sew tchee re o an bsst ate ate etsetra
tewzde mawnin. jes gotta nutha leta fm yew tnx veree o g. know, eye hav knotte bean sic latle, onee laisee. sa wie mite arsque yore par oar mar 2 inspektt a 10 T 4 uz inn tha sitee, butt ef sew, wil wright ina phew daz.
Intrigued? So was I when June Keech showed me the letter in August 2015. Brian tells me Emily was June’s aunt and they discovered her letter among her papers when she died.
I’m wondering if this was Bill’s own invention of a code or whether It was a bit of a craze at that time. I do know boys especially, get drawn into coded writing. However, nothing like this turned up on a google search. So if you have any insight, do post it on the website.
Here’s my translation:
Seems an awful time since I wrote you a note oh gee so I suppose I better scribble a few lines to you.
Nothing to report from this part of the world. I haven’t been up to any more stunts lately, just a bit of phone on the forty during weekends with the old mob. The old voice-box goes to potty quite frequently, so we do not do much phone lately. I made that linen cone speaker as shown in Wireless Weekly a few weeks back and it’s a bit of all right, best one I’ve heard and it’ll do me until I can get a dynamic speaker.
Sorry to hear of your trouble with the blinking b battery but hope you got a proper charger for it and do not pay three and six every time you want it done. So tell your mother I often think of her when I am putting the good oil on the radiator. Yes I put some on it this morning as we had some rain last night.
Had a flat tyre today and found a little thingamajig in the cover like this here T. Wonder what it was? Eric has got the Lizzie going goodo. He gave it a complete overhaul.
Alf and I went for a spin out the plain on the chassis the other day. She sure can pull now, it was some boogie ride believe me!
Mr and Mrs Leo arrived safely. She is a very nice young lady absolutely ok and there is great joy in the camp as you might guess.
I am sending a cute one out of the paper giving details of another couple contemplating the fatal plunge. Hey Hey!
The family are talking about camping at Evans Head for Xmas, hope it doesn’t rain, wouldn’t it be a fair cow? Don’t think I’ll bother taking any radio deceiver, haven’t made the portable yet I was talking about. All talk or what?
Haven’t any more news here and can’t think up any further what to write now Em. So cheerio and best eighty eight etc.
Tuesday Morning. Just got another letter from you thanks very oh gee. No I have not been sick lately, only lazy. So we might ask your Pa or Ma to inspect a tent for us in the city, but if so, will write in a few days.
Address on Envelope:
One of the things I love about old letters is the language that plants them in the past. Things like “the blinking b battery”, “thingamajig”, “going goodo”, “oh gee”, “a fair cow”, “cheerio”, “the old mob”. And of course old money. How many of you can count out three and six in the palm of your hand? Obviously a pretty steep amount at that time, to get your battery charged at the local servo.
Bill intrigued me. He’s out to impress. A daredevil, hooning around a paddock on his car; a lover of puns; and a pretty smart letter-writer. Lizzie at least gave me a clue to the time-frame of the letter. As you probably know Tin Lizzie was the nickname of the Ford Model T, produced in Australia between 1908 to 1927. According to the Museum of Applied Arts and Science, a quarter of a million were sold here. It was so popular because it was affordable, light-weight and cheap. Apparently they were imported as knock-down kits and assembled by local dealers. Then a dealer or his assistant spent up to a week on someone’s property teaching the new owner to drive. No wonder it was dubbed the “Squattor’s Joy”.
You’d wonder why Bill would write to his girl in code. After all there’s nothing to hide in the letter. Is he just showing off? Just like he loves pulling off stunts. But then again I wonder if she replied in code. Brian thought it might have something to do with an over-protective father who didn’t want any young man messing with his daughter.
There is certainly a serious and innovative side to Bill. He is deeply into ham radios, very pleased with his DIY linen cone speaker, intending to make a portable receiver, and experimenting with his radio – at weekends on a forty-acre paddock on his parent’s property. Brian tells me that Emily was interested in ham radios too. This gave me another clue to the time-frame. Wireless telegraphy was a burgeoning hobby at the beginning of the twentieth century but the Wireless Weekly was not published till 1922. Moreover, dynamic speakers, still the most common type of speaker today, weren’t invented till 1924.
All I know about Kyogle is that I once played basketball there as a thirteen-year-old. It’s up in northern NSW near enough to Casino and Grafton. Brian told me that Emily’s father worked with the railways and had something to do with bridge construction. Between 1926 and 1930 the Kyogle to South Brisbane railway was built, providing a standard-guage line between Sydney and Brisbane, decreasing the railway mileage between those two capitals from 725 to 608; and decreasing the travel time by five hours. There among the 1200 employees I discovered Joseph Edward Clayton, foreman in charge of bridges.
I decided to search for Emily Clayton at Kyogle on Trove, and then in the NSW BDMs, hoping to find that this little relationship ended in marriage. Bill, there is no doubt, was interested in a happy ending, with his reflections on newly wedded or intended wedded couples and his sucking up to the mother. But there was no Clayton marriage at that time in that town. Mind you I wonder how Emily reacted to Bill’s closing reference to Hitler, and did she understand it. Eighty-eight was the abbreviation for the Nazi salute Heil Hitler, the letter H being the eighth letter in the alphabet. Then again Hitler had not achieved monster-status by then and Bill was probably just being clever.
Brian informed me June’s Aunt Emily didn’t marry and they eventually ended up at “The Cedars” between Kingswood and St Mary’s. The first news article that comes up is of Emily and her father being attacked by a bull in August 1941, both receiving fractures and other injuries, and Joseph ending up in hospital. They went on to run the successful bull stud “Cedella” and were involved in agricultural shows and field days. Lily Maud died in 1952 and Joseph in 1963. Emily Isabella continued to run the stud, finally dying in Rylstone Hospital on 11 July 1997.
So there you are – a coded piece of historical trivia that unveils life in the twentieth century, and our desire to know more.